Monday, June 18th, 2012

Gemma Draper, Transforming Matter




Gemma Draper moved a few months ago to a new studio, still in Barcelona. From the Raval district she moved to the Eixample, where she continues with her project, La Germinal, teaching courses and organizing conferences and other activities related to creativity.

Outside it’s raining. Seated facing one each other, I enjoy her explanations which I rush to catch taking notes.  Her speech is intense and deep, so sometimes I have to stop. Observing everything around me I hear her tell me that space tends to adapt to one’s time there, while also conditioning you: the space is ambivalent.


La Gemma Draper va canviar fa uns mesos de taller dins la mateixa ciutat de Barcelona, del barri del Raval s’ha traslladat a l’Eixample, on continua amb el seu projecte de La Germinal,  impartint cursos i organitzant conferències així com d’altres activitats relacionades amb la creativitat.

A fora plou. Assegudes una davant l’altra,  gaudeixo de les seves explicacions que m’afanyo en atrapar tot prenent notes;  el seu discurs és dens i profund, a cops m’he d’aturar;  tot observant el meu entorn escolto com em diu que l’espai s’adapta al teu moment i alhora et condiciona: l’espai és ambivalent.



Two photographs by Gemma showing the look of her workshop.

Besides an MFA, Gemma has a B.A. in Philosophy, but even before graduating she felt the need to do things with her hands, experimenting with materials to shape her theoretical arguments. “Dipping in the action of transforming matter includes a reaction that also drives you away from what is around since transforming what you have in your hands is a very intimate act” she says.


Anteriorment al seu MFA, la Gemma es va llicenciar en Filosofia, però ja abans d’acabar la carrera va sentir la necessitat de fer coses amb les mans, d’experimentar amb la matèria per donar forma als seus raonaments teòrics. “Submergir-te en el fet de la transformació de la matèria té una part de distància curta i també et sustrau del que hi ha al voltant, puix que transformar el que tens entre les mans és un fet molt íntim” afirma.



She remembers her father, a skilled goldsmith, washing his hands twice when he came back home after work. This routine made her aware that jewelry is not just about what shines but is also linked to dirt and some of her works are motivated by this thought. Once again the struggle is between the  opposites of Heraclitus of Ephesus.


Des de sempre ha vist com el seu pare, joier de professió, es renta les mans dues vegades seguides quan arriba a casa després del treball; justament  aquest costum li va fer observar que la joieria no és només allò que llueix sinó que també va lligada a la brutícia i alguns dels seus treballs són motivats per aquesta reflexió. De nou la lluita dels contraris d’Heràclit d’Efes.



A word or a concept is usually the starting point and she uses drawing as a tool to enter a different mental space serving to explore the drives of her ego, a introspection as proposed by the Greek philosophers, “First, one must know oneself.”

Una paraula o un concepte sol ser el punt de partida i utilitza el dibuix com a eina per entrar en un espai mental diferent del que estem habituats, li serveix per explorar els camins del seu jo, una introspecció tal com van proposar els filòsofs grecs, “primer un s’ha de conèixer a sí mateix”.



When we talk about materials she immediately replies: “All and none. There are moments when you have to surrender to what the material imposes, its physical laws, and it becomes the boss.” In addition, and referring to tools and techniques, she states that the more basic they are, the more powerful they result, for instance, a hammer and a piece of iron plate. “You are the one who hammers, along with those who hammered and did the same before you; the technique lets you create while limiting you, sometimes it directs you.”  She shows me her most prized tool: an old knife.


Quan parlem de materials de seguida em diu: “Tots i cap. Hi ha moments que t’has de rendir, el material imposa unes lleis fisiques, és quan el material mana”. D’altra banda en referir-se a les eines i tècniques assegura que les més bàsiques són les més potents com ara el martell i un troç de planxa, “qui pica ets tu i tots els que abans han picat i fet el mateix, la tècnica et permet fer i alhora et limita, a vegades et dirigeix”. Em mostra la seva eina més preuada: una antiga navalla.




Three more images by Gemma from her intimate and warm workshop.


Her references keep changing: she reads poetry and essays, Perejaume, Walter Benjamin, John Berger… She names the painter Agnes Martin, the conceptual artist Àngels Ribé and she asks me not to forget the presence of music. She listens to vinyl records and loves those sounds of old voices.

Gemma Draper is working on several coming exhibitions. In September she will present her new work in the gallery Ornamentum. She has been selected for the European Applied Art Prize, to be awarded this July. Her work will be seen at MIMA, UK, during the summer, in the Metadomestic exhibition, and this coming Fall she has been invited to the exhibition Kindred Spirits in Imatra, Finland, on the occasion of KORU4, and to the 6th Tallinn Applied Art Triennial, in Estonia.


Els seus referents han anat canviant, llegeix poesia i assaig, Perejaume, Walter Benjamin, John Berger. Em cita a la pintora Agnes Martin i a l’artista conceptual Angels Ribé i per acabar em demana que no m’oblidi de la presència de la música, escolta discos de vinil, li agraden aquests sons de veus antigues.

La Gemma Draper té previstes varies exposicions. El proper setembre presentarà el seu nou treball a la galeria Ornamentum. Ha estat seleccionada pel European Art Applied Prize que s’otorgarà el mes de juliol. El seu treball es podrà veure al MIMA, UK, durant l’estiu, a l’exposició Metadomestic i a la tardor ha estat convidada a l’exposició Kindred Spirits a Imatra, Finlandia, coincidint amb KORU4 i a la Tallinn 6th Applied Art Triennal, a Estonia.



Limbo Days (September 2011)

Limbo days versus found in translation.

Where a piece, or a series of works, is born? From where do they arise? Where do they belong to? If we don’t follow the birth metaphor to illuminate the fact of rising or appearing, if we don’t stick to the character of the demiurge … what other image can help us to illustrate what happens too when a creation work happens?  There is something that was not there and then later, something appears. Something that is, be it something radically new or be it something rebuilt, reorganized. Is it relevant to ask: where? What is now here is just because it sucks the sap and metabolizes a locus? Or else, this is here simply because the circumstances were propitious, because it found the exit door, the perfect combination of chances and possibilities to finally solemnly break the thin dyed sugar and raise its arms gracefully giving meaning to the cake, to the bustling room, to the neighborhood and to the city and its blinking lights, boasting the chances of good news?

As the poet says, we are all ultra-local, but there is that who conceals it better

Gemma Draper. 2011.


Ld1. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, 9ct gold.


Ld3. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, paint, 9 ct gold.


Ld6. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, agathe stone, paint, 9 ct gold.


Ld8. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone,paint, wood, 9 ct gold.


Ld9.2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, paint, wood, china, 9 ct gold.



You can find more information on her website, on her Klimt02 page and all older posts from her published on this blog by clicking here.


Podeu trobar més informació al seu web, a la seva pàgina de Klimt02 i tots els posts anteriors referents a ella publicats en aquest blog clicant aquí.



One Response to “Gemma Draper, Transforming Matter”

  1. Kim says:

    thank you for this entrancing interview Montserrat. your ability to take photos and include little details that bring the artist and her studio to life is incomparable!

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